How to stop Eli Manning

The New England Patriots should limit their blitzing and must slow Victor Cruz

Originally Published: February 1, 2012
By Dean Oliver | ESPN Stats & Information
Eli ManningJames Lang/US PresswireEli Manning and the New York Giants' offense have struggled at times this season.

How to stop Tom Brady | How to stop Eli Manning

After the NFC Championship Game, you'd have thought Eli Manning should have run for the Republican presidential nomination. He doesn't have people asking about his tax rate, hasn't worked for Freddie Mac and somehow managed to win in California.

The coverage of that victory was over the top. The proclamations of Eli's greatness were everywhere. The harsh critiques he faced before the season were completely forgotten. With the modern sports spin machine, Eli was somehow now possibly "the better Manning."

But let's get one thing straight here: the New York Giants' offense wasn't very good against the 49ers. Manning was the winning quarterback in a memorable and competitive game, but it wasn't his performance that drove the Giants to victory. They had only two drives longer than 50 yards and, without two flubbed punt returns, the Giants likely lose that game and score maybe 10 points. Manning himself made 14 throws that were just bad -- overthrown, underthrown, or into good coverage -- his third most all season. This was a case when a defense really did slow down Manning and the Giants' offense.

So, does the San Francisco 49ers game provide a blueprint for the New England Patriots on how to stop Manning and the Giants?